Chapter 3: Night of the Cupid

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“Jail?” Dixie’s green eyes widened with delight. “You were in jail, Susan?”

“Yup,” Sal said. “In Nowhere, Nevada. It’s a bonding experience.” The big woman scratched the armpit of her pink parka. “Jail, I mean. Not Nowhere.”

Bonding? My cheeks burned. Jail had been one of the worst moments of my life. The lack of control. The smell of disinfectant. That sheriff had even taken by planner away. Plus, it was jail.

“But she wasn’t in for long.” Sal leaned against the reception desk and crossed her legs. She wore matching pink ankle boots. “Susan had to get out to catch that killer.”

“Were you a... deputy?” Arsen asked her, frowning.

“What?” Sal reared backward against the desk. “Deputy? No way. Susan, you didn’t tell him about me?”

“No, no,” I said. “I mean, I did. It’s just—I never knew your full name. We never introduced ourselves properly. You remember.” I turned to Arsen. “The woman with the, er, chalk?” With it, she’d created an impromptu murder board on the jailhouse wall. It had actually been rather helpful.

Grinning, she socked me in the shoulder, and I winced. “I was instrumental in helping solve that murder.”

“You were?” Dixie asked.

“Sure,” Sal said. “We did that whole... thing. You know. Deducting whodunit. Using the gray cells. Like she said, I supplied the chalk and the organizational skills.” She tapped her head.

Bailey sighed and slumped against her foot. She bent to pat the beagle’s head.

“What were you in for?” Dixie asked.

“Dixie,” I hissed, rubbing my shoulder. “That’s a little rude.” But my stomach lurched. What had Sal been arrested for? I didn’t recall discussing it in jail, but I’d had a lot on my mind at the time.

“Nah, it’s okay.” Sal unzipped her thick parka. “I was in for assault.”

My stomach plunged to the fake Persian carpet. “Assault? You attacked someone?”

“Not someone.” She scowled. “I decked a guy. He was hassling my ex—an excitable, tense kind of guy. Reminds me a little of you, Susan.”

“The guy you hit reminds you of Susan?” Arsen asked.

“No, no, no,” she said. “He was a big guy, about your size. My ex reminds me of Susan.”

“So he was hassling your ex, and you punched him,” Dixie said gleefully.

“We-ell,” she said. “I told him to knock it off. And then he called me fat, and the red haze came.”

“The red haze?” I asked in a distant voice.

“It’s like this wash,” Sal said. “This red haze comes over my eyes. I can’t be blamed for what happens next.”

“Cool,” Dixie said. “What happened to your ex?”

She scowled. “He’s my ex, isn’t he? How should I know?”